By; JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) yesterday criticised the appointment of Muslims as ministers of Interior and Defence by President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has tackled HURIWA for its stand. MURIC described HURIWA’s comment as divisive, subjective, emotion-driven and therefore unacceptable. This was made known to newsmen in a press statement issued on Friday, 23rd August, 2019 by Professor Ishaq Akintola, Director and Founder of MURIC.
Continuing, MURIC said, “HURIWA is whipping up religious sentiment and this is least expected of a ‘secular’ human rights organization. This kind of statement is capable of dividing HURIWA itself unless the body is telling us that it is an all-Christian and anti-Muslim organization.
“Human rights groups and individuals within civil society need to weigh their words. You cannot afford to be one-sided in matters of religion and ethnicity particularly in a charged atmosphere like Nigeria. We take serious objection to the stereotyping of Muslim ministers by HURIWA. Or is the group telling us that Muslims do not deserve human rights?
“The last time we checked, there was no single record of HURIWA seeing anything good in Muslims. HURIWA and the rest of the Nigerian civil society clapped by the ringside each time the elites stigmatised and persecuted Muslims. Pray, what did HURIWA say when a whole law graduate was disallowed from being called to bar over a ridiculous excuse?
“What has HURIWA or any member of civil society said concerning the denial of education for innocent Muslim school girls over an ordinary headscarf? Is it not a manifestation of double standard for a civil society that looks the other way as Muslims face daily persecution to raise hell and brimstone because Muslims get what is their right?
“When did we adopt religious leaning as the standard for picking ministers for a particular portfolio? When will Nigerians grow up? Merit should be the criterion, not the church, mosque or shrine.
“We appeal to Nigerians to allow this government to settle down. The same Buhari who was accused of being too slow has come up with a ministerial cabinet when about twenty governors are yet to appoint their commissioners. We also have a #Revolutionnow group clamouring for forceful change of government when even that government has not settled down. What yardstick can you use to deny a student promotion to the next class when no teaching or examination has taken place? People are just coming up with all sorts of preconceived ideas.
“Our problem in this country is perception. We urge Nigerians to get rid of retrogressive perceptions, negative thoughts, ill-will and bad faith. Activism must not be allergic to appreciation of performance and good governance. To be taken seriously, members of civil society must not concentrate on fault-finding alone, we must also find time to commend government when it does something right.
“Unfortunately the reverse is the case in this clime. We find it very easy to criticize and condemn but find it too difficult to appreciate good work. We assert that It is unrealistic for us to ignore the good works of the Buhari administration in its first term in spite of the challenges and restrictions.
“We have ignored the beautiful flowers which surround the house, the superb architectural design and the marvelous interior decoration to pay attention to the folded piece of paper lying carelessly on the centre-stool and for this we condemn the whole house as ‘filthy’.
“Is it realistic to ignore the modern rail system which is already working in Abuja and Kaduna while work is nearing completion in several other places? Is it fair to turn the blind eye on projects like the Second Niger Bridge? What of the massive infrastructural works like those on federal roads in the East, West and North? Are they sheer mirage?
“Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, once remarked that ‘The greatest weapon is truth’ while Shaykh Usman Dan Fodio said ‘Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it’. Heroes and real men do not shy away from recognizing good work and speaking the truth to a mischievious, belligerent and war-mongering opposition.
“To cap the edifice, MURIC invites civil society to allow the Buhari administration to settle down. Human rights groups in particular should speak out only in good conscience. Dancing to the gallery will compel civil society to hide the truth. They must realize that they are not under any obligation to please any opposition. We advise HURIWA not to fall into the temptation of Islam-bashing as this will only earn the organization the distrust of Muslims throughout the country. Finally, we charge Nigerians to discountenance perception and to make merit the standard for the occupation of public office, not religious persuasion.”